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Electroplated Woodwork

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Project by Kelly posted 11-26-2017 03:58 AM 751 views 3 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

These are items I turned (with exception of the cork halves) then electroplated using the plating/forming station I just posted.

The items were copper plated using a solution of copper sulfate and battery acid with low voltage (approx. 1/2 volt) and amperage (approx. 1/2 amp) from an anode to the item being plated.

Because the items being plated would not conduct the electricity necessary to perform the plating process, I had to paint the items with conductive paint I made from ModgePodge and pure graphite (for items that would not be attacked by it, the ModgePodge could be replaced with acetone).





11 comments so far

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

4510 posts in 2040 days


#1 posted 11-26-2017 04:40 AM

Interesting Items Kelly,

I wonder why you would go to the effort of coppering this way when you can just copper leaf with size and get the same results.

Have a look at my Ghan Rail Spike.

-- Regards Robert

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1821 posts in 2780 days


#2 posted 11-26-2017 06:03 AM

Haven’t looked into leaf for years. Too, I haven’t compared the cost of that approach. I suspect plating is much cheaper when you have several items to do.

Plaiting requires: 1) sealing the wood so the acid won’t attack it; 2) applying a conductive paint layer over the sealer; 3) sanding the conductive paint for smoothness [or not, which leave a antique looking finish]; 4) plating; and, 5) buffing. Most of these things do not require careful attention to detail. How do you think applying leaf to small and large finials and things would compare?

What I do know is, plating is very durable. This method is used to plate leaves and things, then the leaves are burned away, leaving only the copper (electroforming). You couldn’t do that with leaf. Too, many make rings that will take a significant beating. Even sanding the plating can be a challenge.

I plan on plating glass and other things with patterns. These things would be handled and I doubt the leaf would go on thick enough to hold up. A 1/16” pattern is no big deal using the plating processes (just leave it in the bath longer). I’ve already done settings around a couple items. They look like like

The last thing would be how smooth the final finish can be. How would those compare? The plating process can produce mirror like surfaces on large items.

I’d really like to look into the leaf approach for some things, so would love hearing some more about it.


Interesting Items Kelly,

I wonder why you would go to the effort of coppering this way when you can just copper leaf with size and get the same results.

Have a look at my Ghan Rail Spike.

- robscastle


View robscastle's profile

robscastle

4510 posts in 2040 days


#3 posted 11-26-2017 06:43 AM

I dont think you will get a mirror like finish with leaf. and its certainly not durable.
here is a gold bullion I did for the wife as a bit of a gag.

It backfired on me as she said couldnt you find something better than some Army Hoochie cord!

I think I did a blog on leafing I will go check for you

-- Regards Robert

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

4510 posts in 2040 days


#4 posted 11-26-2017 06:47 AM

Found it here it is.

Blog

Try again

-- Regards Robert

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

29158 posts in 2703 days


#5 posted 11-26-2017 12:08 PM

You did a beautiful job on these. This is very interesting.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

1696 posts in 1058 days


#6 posted 11-26-2017 03:45 PM

Very interesting!

I would never had thought it could be done, opens up a lot of finishing options.

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1821 posts in 2780 days


#7 posted 11-26-2017 04:06 PM

I was amazed to look around the Net for examples of plated turned items and not found any. Of course, someone else has to be doing that, but it sure isn’t a common thing.

My plan was/is to do wood medallions, like you’d use at the corners of a door or window [or picture] frame, some of my wood jar lids and so on.

Currently, I’m ready to attack about twenty-five turnings. Though the entire turning has to be sealed (lacquer, poly or epoxy), the entire turning does not have to be plated. It does have to make contact with the anode, so can bend a wire to hold it and keep it under the solution, then add a wire or two with points touching the areas covered in conductive paint.

Another interesting thing is, the copper can grow over areas beyond the conductive paint, as the copper builds. I ground channels into a piece of scrap plexi, painted the channels, then dumped it in the bath (with the anode attached, of course). This came about, suggesting even more potential play opportunities:

Notice the top left of the first picture. The plate started moving out over the glass, even though there was no conductive coating, so I left it in the bath to grow, to see what it did.

When all done, I ran the beast against the belt sander, then buffed it. This was the end result.

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1821 posts in 2780 days


#8 posted 11-26-2017 04:24 PM

Thanks Rob. I favorited your blog, since the leafing processes would be very useful in many situations.


Found it here it is.

Blog

Try again

- robscastle


View robscastle's profile

robscastle

4510 posts in 2040 days


#9 posted 11-27-2017 02:47 AM

Well there is no matching the beast effects, thats for sure.

seeming as you are working with plexi and the likes you may be interested in this product

Its Rustoleum Mirror Effect.
Just spray a few layers on the back and this is the result

and another

My phone does not take really good images these days, (possibly the operator) but I guess you will get the idea.

-- Regards Robert

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

8301 posts in 1322 days


#10 posted 11-27-2017 03:50 AM

Very interesting

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

1821 posts in 2780 days


#11 posted 11-27-2017 05:44 AM

Thanks for the tip, Rob. Last time I looked into mirror plating was over thirty years ago and it was $4.50/sq ft then, so the price now would be scary.

On that, and just for reference, I carved both sides of this pieces so it has a unique look. Since I probably took the pictures with your camera, some of the details relating to that fact may not be obvious.

For reference item two: I did a LOT of glass etch back in the day. It was because of that I looked into mirror plating and re-plating. One of the pieces I did was on the plate side of a 1/2” thick mirror. It was a horse (okay, a unicorn) and I carved the muscles deep, the fact which did not show.

When I inquired about that particular piece and the effect the plating would have on deeply carved glass, they recommended against it – because the plating would have different shades. SCORE! As an experiment, I hit the glass with spray on chrome. All the muscles and things that were invisible suddenly jumped out.

seeming as you are working with plexi and the likes you may be interested in this product

Its Rustoleum Mirror Effect.
Just spray a few layers on the back and this is the result

- robscastle


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